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Since the dawn of human expression, man has gazed up at the heavens in wonder, inspired by the wheeling of the stars to explain his surroundings. While our perception of those surroundings have changed, from thinking of the Earth as a flat, stable plane to realizing we’re falling through space in a tiny atmospheric bubble, our wonder remains constant.
Space stations, alien races, far-flung planets—join the Mischief Corner authors as they explore the possibilities the stars might offer. The catch? Returning to mundane old Earth might be harder than you think.
The Usual Conventions: Unconve
Conventional Romances 1 by Mathilde Watson
Brodeich Geinn sat at the table with his chin and cheek balanced in his cupped hand, taking advantage of a welcome lull in the activity at their end of the conference room. Not for the first time, his gaze landed on the lithe, beautiful form of the human, Chris Myers. He moved confidently around the room, weaving in and out of the crowd almost unnoticed as he checked on the tables, restocking merchandise and delivering bottles of water to the weary performers.
“Huh.” Tara, the government agent assigned to the task of acclimating Brodeich and his companions to Earth life, plopped down in the chair next to him. “I never would have pegged you for being gay.”
“Gay?” Brodeich asked, searching his memory for the unfamiliar word.
Tara rolled her eyes and nodded in Chris’s direction. “Interested in men.”
Brodeich frowned. “Of course I am interested in men,” he replied. “They are fascinating. Such a rich history for so short a span of time.”
“No, I mean sexually.” Tara huffed, shaking her head. “You’ve been watching Mr. Myers all morning. You’ve barely taken your eyes off him. And that tells me you want to fuck him.”
Tara’s blunt manner never failed to shock him. Brodeich’s race valued good manners and delicacy of speech, especially in their women.
“Would it work, do you think?” Tara asked, drumming her fingers against the table.
“Would what work?”
“Sex!” Tara exclaimed just a little too loudly. Several heads turned to look in their direction and a few snickers filled the air. Not that Tara seemed to notice.
“Can you put your scaly dick inside a person or can’t you? Particularly a male person.” Tara raised an eyebrow and gestured toward Chris.
Brodeich looked at the other man again and sighed. His blond-brown hair fell a little too long over his forehead and he kept having to brush it away from his stunning green eyes. He was quick to laugh and seemed to smile about everything. His neck was long and pale, rising out of broad shoulders that topped a trim torso held up by long, long legs. And best of all, Chris had a tiny round butt that poked out just enough to fill Brodeich’s mind with wicked, wonderful ideas.
“Yes,” Brodeich breathed, staring at Chris’s backside as he bent over to talk to one of the characters seated across the room. “The human body is said to be very compatible with our own. In fact…” Brodeich gave Tara a sideways look. “Your kind are highly sought after as mates among my people, and many other.”
Brodeich lowered his voice and leaned closer to the woman. “Have you forgotten Hielo is the product of such a union?”
“Hielo was a science experiment. How do I know his parents ever actually did it?” Tara waved her hand dismissively in Hielo’s direction.
Egg-laying species like the Korelims and Budgeons could not create offspring with a human naturally. The conception and birth of the treasured half-breed had required the skilled medical intervention of a team of both Budgeon and Korelimean doctors and scientists.
“It is rumored that intercourse with a human is life altering, that everything else pales by comparison.” Hielo’s father had given up a respected position in the military and the chance of a political career when he mated with Hielo’s mother.
“Yeah? Then why the hell haven’t you tried it yet?” The look on Tara’s face was incredulous. “You’re a celebrity, Brody. You could be banging a different person every night of the week and two on Sunday.”
Brodeich shook his head. For him, promiscuity had long ago lost its appeal as a lifestyle. The act of copulation aboard the Harec Y’shol had served as an outlet for sexual frustration or to establish dominance. The physical release experienced from such couplings was, of course, enjoyable, however, for Brodeich the encounters only served to strengthen his desire for a single, permanent life-mate. The lonely despair he always felt afterwards far outweighed the excitement of coitus in Brodeich’s mind.
“God, you’re such a damn prude!” Tara laughed. “Please tell me you’ll at least make a play for this one, hmm? You have so got to get laid.”
“Had I not been laid I would not be here,” Brodeich retorted. He shuddered at the vague, distant memory of fighting his way out of a thick, rubbery eggshell into a harsh winter’s night some thirty-two years earlier.
“I’m not even going to ask.”
Tara leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest, watching Chris as closely as Brodeich had done all morning.
“He likes you. That much was obvious from the moment he introduced himself,” Tara claimed. “You’ll barely need to hit on him at all to get him to go to bed with you.”
“I’ll not raise a hand to him,” Brodeich told her indignantly. The human looked so delicate, so fragile. Brodeich would never force himself on a man who lacked the power to reject him. “I cannot believe you would even suggest such a thing.”
“Brody, you need to lighten up, man. All I’m suggesting is that you throw a couple of compliments his way and maybe buy him dinner.” Tara shrugged. “If you just let him know you’re interested, he’ll probably take it from there.”
“Dinner and compliments? You mean I should woo him?” Brodeich asked, looking at Chris with new eyes. “Would he really be receptive to my suit, do you think?”
“Honey, I think he’d walk a mile barefoot over rusty nails and broken glass for the chance to bend over for you.”
“Nonsense,” Brodeich replied, but he couldn’t help wondering as he hungrily watched the delectable human. Though he had never encountered one himself, he had heard there were males who welcomed the attention of larger, stronger males and even enjoyed taking the receptive role when coupling.
Just then Chris’s eyes met his. The human smiled and the color of his face changed from a pale cream to a bright crimson. Brodeich smiled back and Chris’s cheeks darkened even more.
Good signs, Brodeich thought, considering Tara’s words and the human’s situation. Brodeich most certainly had a physical advantage over Chris. He had the strength of six or seven human males and a celebrity status that garnered him an earthly fortune that could only add to his appeal. Brodeich had a good deal to offer a potential human mate, and if Chris were the sort of man who sought to be paired with a powerful male partner, he could not do any better.
“I could try to feel him out at least,” Brodeich mused. “Perhaps he will allow me to speak with him during the lunch break.”
“You can skip feeling him out and jump right into feeling him up, buddy, trust me.”
“If I am going to do this, I will do it the right way,” Brodeich insisted. He’d learned enough about human culture to know there were a number of rituals he needed to perform before he could expect a person to spread their legs, especially if he hoped to secure them as his mate. He could easily compel the frail human to engage in intercourse with him, but Brodeich hoped for more than compliance from the sexy man.
“I have never been one to defy convention and I certainly do not intend to stray from the proper protocol while in pursuit of human companionship.” He had his pride after all.
“Fine,” Tara answered. “Do it your way. So long as you end up in bed with him before the weekend is out I don’t give a shit how you get him there.”
“Oh my god!”
The table shook as an excited voice interrupted their conversation. Brodeich looked up to see a short, stocky man with close-cropped dark hair and wide eyes that didn’t match leaning heavily on the other end of the table, staring intently at Goldie.
“I hoped you would be here,” the guy gushed, visibly shaking with his enthusiasm. “You weren’t listed on the website, but you’ve already got a reputation as late registers who sometimes turn up at the last minute, so I took a chance and volunteered to cover this event instead of the concert the other guys were fighting over even though I have seniority and could have picked anything.”
The guy rambled on without stopping for breath, and it would have been comical were it not for the terrified look in Goldie’s eyes. The man held out his hand to Brodeich’s frightened companion, leaning even nearer, almost touching him.
“I’m Gibson Pike, lead researcher and reviewer for The Other Truths magazine. It is such an unexpected pleasure to meet you.”
Brodeich stood and moved between the overeager reporter and the stunned Gauldsthei, taking the human’s hand himself and firmly drawing him away.
“The pleasure is ours, I’m sure.”